Study about rudeness at work baffles Guru

Guru has been alerted to a baffling study about rudeness at work via the CIPD newsletter. The report from the International Journal of Research Slightly Less Valuable Than Commonsense, sorry, the Harvard Business Review, reveals that most people at work experience rudeness sometimes.

The report states that 98% of 14,000 respondents reported experiencing rudeness over the course of what is described as a “long-term” study. The authors describe this figure of 98% as “incredible”. Guru agrees: it’s absolutely gob-smackingly incredible that they found 280 people who did not ever experience rudeness at work. Where do these people work? Do they tend the gates of paradise?

Remarkably, the authors go on to claim that the 98% of people, who do experience rudeness sometimes, have 25% fewer ideas than the others… the others being the tiny, tiny fraction of people who claim to never have experienced incivility at work. Anybody with an ounce of sense will realise that this is a ridiculous way to report this data. The 98% are the overwhelming majority of people – they’re the normal people. The 2% are extremely odd, or working in very strange circumstances and the authors should report that people who claim to have never experienced rudeness have 33% more ideas than everybody else, and then tell us what the hell is going on with these people. Perhaps it will lead to a revolution in HR with all staff being sent to work in cabins in the woods, with a concurring leap in creative productivity.

As if this weren’t ridiculous enough, the authors also report the finding that 80% of customers would change bank if they witnessed an incident of rudeness between two employees at their bank. This percentage is so obviously ludicrous that, again, any reader with an ounce of sense can only be left wondering how they managed to gather such data. Guru suggests that the question was posed thusly:

Q. You witness a teller at a bank being rude to a fellow employee… do you:

(a) Leave the bank and never return

(b) Join in, yelling foul abuse at the employee until your transaction is complete

(c) Invest heavily in the bank – you are also a rude person and now think more highly of the bank